THE Supreme Court (SC) has ruled with finality in declaring illegal an order of the Bureau of Customs and Department of Finance (DOF) to transfer high ranking BOC officials to a newly created office allegedly funded by the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program.
It said the order of the BOC ordering the transfer of career Customs officials, which effectively puts them on”floating status,” is invalid.
The SC, however, ruled as legal an Executive Order (EO) creating the Customs Policy Research Office (CPRO) of the Finance department.
A two-page resolution of the court’s Second Division, signed and promulgated by Ma. Lourdes Perfecto, Division Clerk of Court, dated December 7, 2016, but was released to the media just recently, junked a motion for partial reconsideration filed by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and the BOC then represented by Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon and now headed by Alberto Lina.
With a vote of 4 against 1, the SC stuck to its earlier decision of August 24, 2015, penned by SC Justice Antonio Carpio, which declared illegal and invalid the transfer of 27 Customs officials.
SC Justice Marvic Leonen was the lone dissenter in the ruling.
In its ruling, the SC stated that the Regional Trial Court has jurisdiction over action for declaratory relief filed by several personnel of the BOC—Ronnie Silvestre, Edward dela Cuesta, Rogel Gatchalian, Imelda Cruz, Lilibeth Sandag, Raymond Ventura, Ma. Liza Torres, Arnel Alacaraz, Ma. Lourdes Mangaoang, Francis Agustin Erpe, Carlos So, Marietta Zamoranos, Carmelita Talusan, Arefiles Carreon and Romalino Valdez.
The case stemmed from issuance of EO 140 on September 2, 2013, which created the CPRO, stating that the office “shall be responsible for reviewing the Customs administration policies and rules and procedures, and thereafter providing sound recommendations for the improvement of the same.”